Over the last week we've seen the rise and fall of players and teams in the NBA Playoffs. Somehow the Los Angeles Clippers beat the defending champion San Antonio Spurs (and they continue to struggle with the concept of winning something back-to-back). We also saw each team in the second round split their first two games -- which I can't ever remember happening before. There's a lot of playoffs left to play for the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Memphis Grizzlies, and Washington Wizards. But it is another week without any Utah Jazz in the playoff news, and while that is unfortunate, it does not preclude the team from being newsworthy. Our massive center of attention, Rudy Gobert, continues to have his name bandied about for end-of-season awards. Derrick Favors is doing his part to help sick kids. A number of Jazz players, former Jazz players, and Jazz extended family members are playing in tournaments this summer. Who are they and when can I watch them? What's the deal with the NBA Draft? Are the Jazz working out anyone? And, of course, Free Agency talk.
1. RUDY GOBERT IS STILL NOT SATISFIED!
Two weeks ago we talked about how Rudy Gobert, who voted as the fifth best defensive player of the year -- but that only seemed to stoke his fire a bit. Just yesterday it was announced that he was voted third in most improved player of the year, but even that does not begin to quell the fire in his tummy.
Keep feeding...keep feeding...until i eat everything
— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) May 7, 2015
You gotta love the fact that we have a guy here who earned his starting spot after being a late 1st round pick, who isn't satisfied in just having job security, a starting spot, and being an after-thought for global recognition. Gobert wants to be the best player he can be. Perhaps other players have that same drive; but Rudy does seem to take setbacks in a positive way. As motivation. I guess that's why all those players take all those psych tests at the combine. The Jazz seem to target the guys who aren't just happy to be there anymore.
As for being happy, should we make these "Eats with freaking human" shirts?
2. Derrick Favors doing charity work for Ronald McDonald House
Derrick Favors did his charity thing a little closer to home compared do what Rudy did last week. He has been putting in shifts at McDonald's to raise awareness and help facilitate people donating to the cause.
Had a great time with the Ronald McDonald house raising awareness pic.twitter.com/pCrmtOVflf
— Derrick Favors (@dfavors14) May 5, 2015
For those who do not know, Ronald McDonald House, their charities, and organization are a non-profit org that strives to improve the life of children, their health, and assist families during difficult times. At the base level they operate as a home for families who need to be close by to their sick children, who often have to go either out of city or state to seek the medical attention they need. But I was pleased to learn that RMcD House is doing even MORE now, as they even offer some level of cognitive development and occupational therapy to these kids as well. That is fantastic. This story has made me learn more about what they do, and Derrick Favors really did help increase my awareness!
Jody, of the Deseret News joked about this,
I dare somebody to order a 55-win season from @dfavors14 during his McDonald shift next Tuesday.
— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) May 1, 2015
To which Favors replied
@DJJazzyJody hahaha I'll order that for myself
— Derrick Favors (@dfavors14) May 1, 2015
It's fantastic to have two guys anchoring the team who care so much about being great. Only the Old Gods and the new could know what Felton Spencer was thinking all those years ago.
3.Olympics in Rio, 2016
As you probably know there's going to be an Olympics in Brazil two summers from now. (Wait, is the summer Olympics in the Southern Hemisphere still during summer time for us? I feels like something someone could easily Google...) Basketball is one if the biggest Olympic sports since the 1992 games where the USA Basketball Dream Team came out there and won every game by about 40 points. There are a number of players we may be interested in, in their national quest to make it to Rio.
- The American players, and I'm not saying anything but maybe Gordon Hayward gets a chance to crack the team, already have locked up their ticket by winning the FIBA World Cup in 2014 (last summer).
- One berth to Rio goes to the winner of the 2015 FIBA Oceania tournament, which is, well, two teams: Australia and New Zealand. If Australia wins (I'm guessing the combined final score of the two games) then they get in. This is a big deal for guys like Dante Exum and Joe Ingles. Australia has the better squad, and NBA talent, even if a few guys sit out -- and Joe is sitting this one out, and probably Andrew Bogut and Patrick Mills too. I don't know if Steven Adams is playing for the All Blacks this summer or not, but at full strength it's no contest. Dante is playing here, and these two games are after NBA Summer league, on August 15th and 18th. Dante talks all about it here!
- Another berth goes to the winner of the 2015 FIBA Africa tournament, which fields 16 different teams. I love how jacked this is inherently. Australia needs to play two games and all they have to do is win one of the two games and finish with a better +/-. To win Africa you have to play seven games, needing to win the last four games in a row to make it to Rio. Anyway, any Jazz players to keep note of here? Tunisia has former Jazz workout and summer league player Salah Mejri, Nigeria has former Jazz pre-draft workout player Al-Farouq Aminu, and that's about it. Of course, there's this 18 year old guy playing for the Central African Republic who I want the Jazz to somehow get the draft rights too, just because of his name. I don't even know what position he plays, but his name is Jose Pascal Ngoko-Molombe. I am sure Hot Rod would have just called him J.P., God bless him. (His Facebook page is awesome, though.) FIBA Africa goes down between the 20th and 30th of August.
- Two nations can pack their bags with a good showing at the 2015 FIBA Americas championship, where 10 teams (Brazil, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Panama, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, and Argentina) will fight it out. It goes down in Monterrey, Mexico, and their arena seats 17.6k people. It's a big tournament with some big players. Raul Neto is the second string PG for Brazil. (Rafael Araujo didn't make the team.) Carlos Arroyo is still playing for Puerto Rico. But that's it for Jazz relations -- but there are plenty of NBA players playing for those 10 nations. Please note that USA doesn't have to play in this tournament because they won the World Cup. Anyway, Team Canada tho . . . youth! This tourney takes place August 25th to September 6th.
- Another two berths are available in the land-war that we call FIBA EuroBasket. There are 24 teams, and this shows how amazing that Russian run was to win it a few seasons ago. The Reds will once again, most likely, have Andrei Kirilenko and company. France is going to lean on Rudy Gobert because Joakim Noah is sitting this one out. Erik Murphy is suiting up for Finland. (Yes, Murphy Prime) Enes Kanter is probably not playing for Turkey, again. (Enes plays for himself.) Raul Lopez didn't make Spain's team. I don't know if Tibor Pleiss will make the German team (he's not listed on there yet). Francisco Elson isn't coaching the Netherlands roster just yet. Kosta Koufos is going to be playing for Greece. Ante Tomic will do so for Croatia. I don't see how the Macedonian Carlos Boozer, Pero Antic, doesn't make that squad. It looks like Andris Biedrins has retired, and won't be playing for Latvia. Jazzkiller Linas Kleiza is going to drop bombs for Lithuania. Kyrylo Fesenko doesn't look like he'll make the Ukrainian team. But, for reals, from the 4th to the 20th of September this is the best basketball you could possibly watch.
- One more berth is available to the winner of the 16 team 2015 FIBA Asia battle, which currently includes China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kuwait, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and eight other nations to be determined still. Effectively this is going to end up being China against Iran, and we all know it. So one of those teams will make it. I don't know if Utah people still hold some level of love for Iran, as they played in the last Rocky Mountain Revue. I guess it was a chance to see that just because the state has bad foreign policy doesn't mean all the people are evil. This tournament doesn't start until three other Asian basketball tournaments end, and will tip off at the end of September and the beginning of October. If there is a Jazz player on one of these teams, he's not going to be playing in this tournament.
So why is it worth it to win one of these regionals? It means your team has to play less basketball and get more rest. It also means your team avoids the kill or be killed Olympic qualifying tournament were all the best teams who were runner ups or 3rd place from all over the world play one another. That will happen in July 2016, and there are only 3 spots available. So you have to finish top there there and then hope on a plane to Brazil in a matter of hours. For Jazz fans it's clear that we need to fall in love with Green, as the Aussies and Brazlians both wear that color. (Colour.) And as Jazz fans, we hope that no one gets hurt in these tournaments -- least of all our precious point guard prospects.
4.NBA DRAFT PREP!
The NBA Draft is coming up next June, and next week we have the NBA Draft Combine. The Utah Jazz are busy working out players right now. Who has been up to Zion's Bank to work out so far? We got you covered.
5. Free Agency isn't Free
The Utah Jazz have money to spend, but lots of younger players who may be deserving of raises when their rookie scale contracts expire. While he gets the numbers wrong, T.J. of the SLTRIB talks about some of the free agency strategies the team could go for -- personally, there's no need to be in a rush to get swept out of the NBA Playoffs. Keep learning, keep growing, keep improving. No Josh Howard type players, please.
Previous Top Five Stories:
- March 28 - April 3: Rod Rod Hundley passes away; Grantland kills Enes Kanter and his comments on Utah; Australian Newspapers talk about Dante Exum; the Idaho Stampede have been purchased by the Utah Jazz and what does this mean for the future; and Rudy Gobert is a legit star according to the National basketball writers of America
- April 4 - April 10: DUKE wins the NCAA National Championship; Rodney Hood will play in summer league; National media think the Utah Jazz will make a run for the playoffs next season; Quin Snyder interviews + Moni = awesome; some national writers don't think the Thunder want Enes Kanter back
- April 11 - April 17: Utah Jazz players could make some noise with some end of season awards; Rocky Mountain Revue dates and teams; Bryce Cotton 's awesome oop; Gary Briggs retires; Locker Clean Out exit interviews
- April 18 - April 24: Rudy Gobert 's reaction to placing 5th in DPOY; Alec Burks desire to get back on the court; Quin Snyder is a Top 10 Coach; Andrei Kirilenko is still AK-47; Larry H. Miller day of service
- April 25 - May 1: Gordon Hayward blogs about his impending fatherhood; Rudy Gobert is doing charity work in Africa this off-season; Ante Tomic is really never, ever, ever coming over to the Jazz; Utah Jazz license plates are fun; and it's been a very long time since the Jazz won a playoff game
- May 2 - May 8: You're already reading this one, you dumb-dumb!